By MELISSA HUTSELL
Business Journal Writer
MODESTO — The Central Valley is growing, and with it, the demand for more robust infrastructure.
This one of the fastest growing regions in the state. According to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), “During the past 10 years, the Central Valley has gained more than one million new residents. By 2005, its population reached 6.5 million, more than the population of 38 states.” That number is projected to nearly double, reaching 12 million by 2040, added the PPIC report.
Critical to this growth and economic development is sustainable infrastructure, noted the “California Five Year Infrastructure Plan 2016.” The plan allocates funds to improve water resources, transportation, hospitals and community colleges, among many other sectors.
To address outdated and problematic conditions, Teter Architecture and Engineering pulls from a diversity of fields to create innovative solutions that fit the area’s particular needs.
The company opened in 1979 in Visalia. Today, Teter is headquartered in Fresno, and has grown to include more than 100 team members at its five partnerships, including San Luis Obispo, Bakersfield and, most recently, Modesto.
Existing professional ties, and a growing valley, drove the decision to come to Modesto, said Jonathan Schlundt, partner, and licensed mechanical engineer.
Teter welcomed its Modesto office in June 2017 after the company acquired Pacific Design Associates, a deeply rooted regional architecture business owned by Don Philips.
The acquisition earned Teter the title as 24th largest private sector employer in the San Joaquin Valley, reported The Business Journal.
Growth in the northern valley is overdue, said Schlundt. And with more development expected, there’s a lot of potential, and a lot of demand across all markets.
The region’s needs are unique, Schlundt explained.
“The Valley as a whole is in an interesting place with both trying to grow and trying to maintain its existing, aging infrastructures,” Schlundt said. California’s structures aren’t necessarily failing, they’re outdated, Schlundt said.
“Where we age the most is conservation,” he added.
As problem solvers at heart, Schlundt and fellow staff members tackle projects both large and small. “There’s no such thing as easy, every project has its challenges,” said Schlundt, whether caused by man or nature.
Here, more frequent and intense heat waves have drastic impacts.
“Buildings are not always designed for record setting days,” he said. “People are experiencing problems they’ve never experienced before, or at higher frequencies.”For example, schools can struggle to maintain sustainable, cool and conducive learning environments as a result, said Schlundt. The same goes for medical facilities, which must maintain standards — such moisture levels — to be open.
“If they go beyond that – they can’t do procedures, they can’t help people,” he said.
According to Science Magazine’s “Intelligent Infrastructure for Energy Efficiency,” Buildings account for 40 percent of energy supplied in the U.S., and more than 70 percent of all generated electricity.” Approximately 20 percent of the energy used by buildings can be potentially saved through technological upgrades, added the report.
Energy efficiency is huge for Teter and their clients.
“When people think energy, they often think electricity,” Schlundt said. But, this incorporates lighting, heating and cooling demands, water systems and many other aspects.
“Society as a whole has been is pushing to go more green, and we still have a long way to go,” he added. “Technology has been trying to keep up with that.” Teter aims to balance desires for innovation, while leaving room for future needs.
Teter employs professionals from different fields including architectural design, electrical and industrial engineering and planning services.
“That allows us to be very diverse as a company; serve a multitude of clients and market sectors; and have all engineers (and architects) in house,” Schlundt said.
The collaborative business model sets the company apart. As a one-stop shop, the staff works together through all phases of projects, allowing for more cohesion and creativity, Schlundt said.
This permits staff to evaluate projects from multiple angles. In a building, this means asking how its different features —- lighting, windows, roofing and A/C — can marry each other. When combining these aspects, there are “countless possibilities to finding the solution,” Schlundt said.
Teter serves a wide range of market sectors. Their biggest: universities, K-12 schools, healthcare facilities, industrial development and energy efficiency. Needs vary from maintenance to equipment replacement, and large, new campuses. In fact, the company completes more than 400 different projects per year.
Completed projects include the Chevron Energy Center in Bakersfield, Virginia R. Boris Elementary School in Clovis, The Paramount Citrus Facility in Delano and the Yosemite Community College District (YCCD) new Central Plant and Boiler in Modesto.
One of Teter’s most unique projects, Schlundt said, was designing a blast-proof building. “Restrictions would make this building like a bunker, like a Navy ship on a welded sea. That’s what the calculations told us.” But, he added, that wouldn’t have been aesthetically pleasing — or cost effective. “We had to build around that,” he said.
Teter’s staff isn’t just building structures, they’re building community. Their commitment to building a better valley begins internally, where creativity and opportunity are cultivated.
“Our culture is what makes us who we are,” Schlundt said.